Helping nesting common terns


This 2016 video from the USA says about itself:

The Pennsylvania Game Commission conducted a camera trap survey in June 2016 to monitor common terns attempting to nest at Presque Isle State Park (PISP).

Common Terns have been known to breed in Pennsylvania only in a small area at the east end of PISP. Although they were a fairly common nesting species in the early part of this century, there have been no successful nests since the mid-1960s. The breeding population quickly declined when their nesting area became a popular area for unrestricted swimming. Common Terns attempted to nest again after the long-overdue protection of this valuable ecological site in the mid-1990s. The breeding population has declined throughout the Great Lakes and the Atlantic coastal regions, owing in part to the same problems. … On 1 Jun 1930, Todd visited this site and counted at least 139 nests. In 1931 most nests were destroyed by bathers who walked among and even stepped on the eggs. … Common Terns are listed as Endangered by the Game Commission in Pennsylvania.”

Braining, Daniel W. and Gerald M. McWilliams. 2000. “The Birds of Pennsylvania”. Cornell University Press.

Based on the findings of these camera traps, the Game Commission may choose to try predator exclusion structures to help terns have a successful nesting colony.

From the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in the USA:

Do you have beachfront property or live near a beach? Our newest addition to our Right Bird, Right House interactive tool is a chick shelter for Common Terns! Nesting shelters are meant to protect chicks from avian predators such as owls and falcons, which commonly prey on tern colonies throughout their breeding range. The plans were provided by James McGarry of Save the River, an organization based at the St. Lawrence River in northern New York. Check out the plans now.

Why songbirds feed other species’ youngsters


Left, eastern bluebird, right tree swallow

From Penn State University in the USA:

Daddy daycare: Why some songbirds care for the ‘wrong’ kids

October 3, 2019

Interspecific feeding — when an adult of one species feeds the young of another — is rare among songbirds, and scientists could only speculate on why it occurs, but now, Penn State researchers have new insight into this behavior.

Like many scientific findings, this comes from pursuing a larger, unrelated question. In this case, whether noise pollution from Marcellus Shale natural gas development is disrupting songbird reproduction and behavior in Pennsylvania’s forests. The researchers conducted this work at Penn State’s Russell E. Larsen Agricultural Research Center.

“There are numerous hypotheses to explain why interspecific feeding behavior might occur, but in most cases observers can only speculate on the cause because they lack information on the nesting histories of the species involved,” said Julian Avery, assistant research professor of wildlife ecology and conservation in the College of Agricultural Sciences. “But in this case, we had much more information.”

For the industrial noise pollution study, researchers placed 80 nest boxes along gravel roads and fields in pairs, with paired boxes slightly more than three feet apart and about 100 yards between pairs. They paired the nest boxes to maximize settlement by Eastern bluebirds and tree swallows, which often are willing to nest in close proximity.

The researchers subjected 20 of the paired boxes to noise that played 24 hours a day from large speakers placed just behind the nest boxes. The sound was recordings of a shale-gas compressor that looped to create continuous noise, loud enough to simulate an active compressor station.

As part of the study, researchers recorded behavioral observations using cameras in the nest boxes. They observed each box once during incubation, once when the nestlings were young and a third time when nestlings were older.

“We crossed our fingers and hoped birds would move into the site to occupy those boxes, and they did in large numbers, so we had a nice experimental treatment between birds nesting in quiet boxes and birds nesting in very noisy boxes,” Avery said. “We’ll be reporting soon on how the industrial noise pollution affected the birds, but first this interspecific feeding component is fascinating.”

Lead researcher Danielle Williams, who received a master’s degree in wildlife and fisheries science in 2018, recorded the number of feeding events at the boxes by each parent in three-hour observations and analyzed the footage. That’s how she learned about the male bluebird repeatedly feeding tree swallow nestlings in Box 34B.

This nest contained four 10-day-old tree swallow nestlings. The second box in the pair, 34A, contained four Eastern bluebird eggs. The bluebird pair occupying box 34A had fledged young from box 34B more than a month before. The tree swallows then took over the box and laid their eggs, forcing the bluebirds to move to box 34A for their second brood.

“We inserted a camera into nest box 34B for an older nestling observation, and during the three-hour observation period, the male Eastern bluebird nesting in box 34A was shown providing food to the tree swallow nestlings 29 times,” Williams said. “When I looked at the video, I realized that there was a bluebird male in there caring for the young.”

The researchers, who noted that many songbirds do not recognize the begging calls or the appearance of their own young, believe the male bluebird, because he had nested in this box earlier in the season, was confused. He made a “place-based decision” to care for the young tree swallows.

“In this case, we think the male — since he was primed to raise nestlings and respond to begging behavior — was duped because he was hearing all of these begging calls and remembered this box,” Avery said. “It’s especially cool because he is going in and out of the box as the female tree swallow does as well.” songbird chicks

The bluebird even perched beside the female tree swallow on the box lid, Avery added.

“You’d think at that point the male bluebird would realize the gig was up,” he said. “He is engaged in very detailed behavior, even picking up and removing the tree swallow chicks’ waste. He doesn’t seem to have a clue.”

The findings, recently published in the Wilson Journal of Ornithology, are important in helping us understand animal behavior, according to Avery.

“With all the other random observations out there of interspecific feeding behavior, observers never had any indication what was driving it,” he said. “With this we do, and we know to what degree the urge to care for young overrides other considerations.”

Margaret Brittingham, professor of wildlife resources and extension wildlife specialist, also was involved in this research.

Penn State’s Schreyer Institute for Teaching Excellence, the Association of Field Ornithologists and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture funded this study.

Mumia Abu-Jamal’s partial victory


This 13 May 2016 video says about itself:

10th Anniversary: Rue Mumia Abu-Jamal plus Paris May Day

Powerful report of special commemoration of naming of French street after Mumia. Betsey Piettte of IAC refers to slide show (not visible) and also report & video of Paris May Day 2016.

By Fred Mazelis in the USA:

Mumia Abu-Jamal wins right to reargue appeal of his 1982 conviction

5 January 2019

In a significant legal victory for Mumia Abu-Jamal, a ruling by a Pennsylvania Superior Court judge on December 27 gives the long-imprisoned activist and journalist a new chance to appeal his 1982 conviction for the murder of Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner. Abu-Jamal, a former Black Panther who spent nearly 30 years on death row before prosecutors agreed in 2011 to a sentence of life imprisonment without parole, has steadfastly maintained his innocence.

Justice Leon Tucker issued a 37-page opinion last week that concluded, as reported by the Associated Press, that former Justice Ronald Castille of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court should have recused himself from a 2012 appeal rejecting Abu-Jamal’s final appeal. Tucker, pointing to numerous statements made by Castille when he was Philadelphia District Attorney between 1986 and 1991, advocating the death penalty in cases of killing of police officers, cited the “appearance of bias”.

At the same time, however, Tucker rejected other arguments presented by Abu-Jamal’s attorneys—that Castille had played a “significant” role, when he was DA, in the appeal of the original conviction, before going on to rule on the appeal as a judge.

Castille had received campaign contributions from the Philadelphia Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), which had loudly dismissed all claims that the defendant had not received a fair trial and had pushed for Abu-Jamal’s execution. Tucker relied on a US Supreme Court ruling in 2016 that Castille should have recused himself in a similar case. It was this decision that spurred the latest effort by Abu-Jamal’s attorneys. Tucker, in his opinion, said Abu-Jamal should be given another chance to argue his innocence in front of the state’s high court, now that Castille is no longer a sitting judge.

Abu-Jamal, now 63 years old, has spent well over half his life behind bars after his conviction and sentencing in the 37-year-old case, which Amnesty International, among numerous other advocates and observers, has charged was tainted by unfairness and racial bias.

A national and international campaign has been waged on behalf of Abu-Jamal, who became a focus of attention and opposition to the outrages that characterize the “criminal justice” system in the US, especially in the application of the death penalty. It was reinstated in 1976, part of the rapid shift to the right by the political and judicial authorities after the labor, civil rights and antiwar struggles of the 1960s and the defeat of US imperialism in Vietnam.

The original trial of Abu-Jamal took place in the early years of the Reagan administration, amid a law-and-order frenzy that would soon lead to the highest rate of mass incarceration in the world. Defense attorneys have brought forward evidence of many instances of flagrant misconduct in Abu-Jamal’s case, including an affidavit of a court stenographer that the trial judge in the case, Albert Sabo, had declared, “Yeah, I’m going to help ’em fry the nigger.” Sabo presided over a trial in which important eyewitness testimony was excluded, confessions were fabricated, and the defendant himself was excluded from most trial proceedings.

It was not until 2008 that Abu-Jamal’s original death sentence was thrown out, with an appeals court ruling that found that jury instructions in 1982 had been fundamentally flawed. Abu-Jamal remained on death row, however, after the US Supreme Court overturned the appeals court in 2010. Amidst continuing litigation, prosecutors finally agreed to reduce the penalty to the life sentence several years later.

During his long stretch of imprisonment, Abu-Jamal has continued to write as well as to speak on Prison Radio. He attracted attention with his 1995 book Live From Death Row. His latest book was published in 2017 and has a foreword by well-known journalist Chris Hedges.

Abu-Jamal has also suffered from severe health problems, exacerbated by neglect and inadequate treatment in prison. A recent “Democracy Now” radio program reported that he was diagnosed with hepatitis C and had obtained the necessary treatment only after a successful lawsuit.

The police union, prominently assisted by Maureen Faulkner, the widow of the slain officer, has kept up a vitriolic campaign against Abu-Jamal, and has received bipartisan support in this campaign from the political establishment in Pennsylvania. In 2014 the state legislature went so far as to pass a “revictimization” law, in response to a recorded commencement speech that Abu-Jamal had delivered at a Vermont college. The bill forbade prisoners, even in some cases those not yet convicted, from speaking or acting in ways that would “re-traumatize” victims of crimes. A state judge threw out the law in 2015 as “manifestly unconstitutional.”

Civil rights lawyer David Rudovsky, who worked on an early Abu-Jamal appeal, was quoted by the Associated Press on various elements of the Abu-Jamal case that point to ongoing police and prosecutorial wrongdoing and discrimination.

“The race bias, the judicial bias, the questions of identification and prosecutorial commentary or misconduct—we’re still struggling with them”, said Rudovsky, a University of Pennsylvania law professor.

Abu-Jamal’s attorneys have 30 days within which to file a notice of appeal to reargue his original conviction before the state’s highest court. At the same time, Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner must make a decision on whether to appeal Judge Tucker’s decision. Krasner was elected in 2017 as a liberal, promising various criminal justice reforms. He has stopped requiring cash bail for most misdemeanors and nonviolent felony charges.

Pittsburgh synagogue massacre and Donald Trump, by Noam Chomsky


This 31 December 2018 video from the USA says about itself:

Noam Chomsky on Pittsburgh Attack: Revival of Hate Is Encouraged by Trump’s Rhetoric

On October 27th, a gunman stormed the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, killing 11 Jewish worshipers. The massacre has been described as the worst anti-Semitic attack in U.S. history. After the shooting, we spoke with Noam Chomsky, the world-renowned professor, linguist and dissident, about Pittsburgh, Israel’s policies toward Gaza and other recent white supremacist and right-wing attacks in the U.S.

AMERICAN JEWS FEARFUL OF ANTISEMITISM About 88% of American Jews believe anti-Semitism is a problem in the U.S. today, with 38% labeling it a “very serious” problem, according to a national survey. A plurality of respondents (43%) said they believe anti-Semitism in the U.S. has “increased a lot” over the past five years. [HuffPost]

Victims of Pittsburgh, USA synagogue massacre funerals


This 29 October 2018 video from the USA says about itself:

Glenn Greenwald: Violence Like Pittsburgh Shooting Is “Inevitable Outcome” of Racist Scapegoating

The massacre of 11 worshipers at a Pittsburgh synagogue Saturday capped a hate-filled week in America, following the shooting of two African Americans at a Kentucky grocery store by a white man and the arrest of avid Trump supporter Cesar Sayoc for allegedly mailing 13 bombs to CNN and political opponents of President Trump. We speak with Glenn Greenwald, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and one of the founding editors of The Intercept.

By Samuel Davidson in the USA:

Thousands attend funerals for victims of Pittsburgh synagogue massacre

2 November 2018

Thousands of people have been attending the funerals for the victims of the massacre at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh this past Saturday. The outpouring was a sign of popular opposition to that horrific act of anti-Semitic violence and the political climate that contributed to it.

On Tuesday, services were held for Jerry Rabinowitz, 66, of Edgewood, and brothers Cecil, 59, and David Rosenthal, 54, of Squirrel Hill and Daniel Stein, 71, of Squirrel Hill. On Wednesday, thousands of mourners attended three services for Joyce Fienberg, 75, of Oakland, Irving Younger, 69, of Mount Washington, and Melvin Wax, 87, of Squirrel Hill.

On Thursday, services were held for husband and wife Sylvan Simon, 86, and Bernice Simon, 84, of Wilkinsburg, who were both killed in the attack. A separate service was held for Richard Gottfried, 65, of Ross. Gottfried a dentist, worked part of his time in clinics providing free care to refugees and those that couldn’t afford dental care.

Funeral services will be held today for Rose Mallinger, 97, of Squirrel Hill, the oldest of the victims.

The 11 people were shot and killed Saturday while attending morning services at the Tree of Life synagogue in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh.

Religious leaders have invited the public throughout the country to attend Solidarity Shabbat services Friday night and Saturday to express their sympathy for the victims and to oppose anti-Semitism. The victims were killed last Saturday while observing the Jewish sabbath or day of rest.

Attorneys for Robert Bowers, 46, the chief suspect in the massacre, entered pleas of not guilty to 44 counts, including 11 counts of murder, for the killing of 11 worshipers at the Tree of Life synagogue. On Wednesday, a federal grand jury in western Pennsylvania indicted Bower on 11 counts of obstruction of free exercise of religious freedom resulting in death, and 11 counts of using a firearm during a crime of violence.

Bowers, who is reportedly a truck driver from nearby Baldwin, is accused of entering the synagogue shortly before 10 am last Saturday carrying an AR-15 assault rifle and 3 handguns and shouting “all Jews must die” as he began shooting.

Social media posts made by Bowers in the weeks and days before the attack make clear that he targeted the synagogue because of work done there in connection with HIAS (formally the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society), which relocates refugees from war-torn Syria, Latin America and throughout the world to the Pittsburgh area. HIAS is the oldest refugee organization in the world, having assisted refugees for more than 130 years.

Just before his bloody assault, Bowers wrote, “HIAS likes to bring invaders in that kill our people. I can’t sit by and watch my people get slaughtered. Screw your optics, I’m going in.”

The political climate for this rampage has been created by the fascistic speeches of President Donald Trump. In the past few weeks, the president has referred to the caravan of Central American refugees as an army of invaders out to steal jobs, commit crimes and steal social services from native born residents. He also accused Democratic donor George Soros, who is Jewish, of funding the caravan, an accusation that was taken up by far right and fascistic web sites.

These xenophobic rants incited the violence in Pittsburgh and other acts, including the sending of pipe bombs to prominent Democrats and critics of Trump by an avid Trump supporter and the murder of two African-Americans at a grocery store in Kentucky.

“Trump uses language like ‘invaders’ and ‘army’ whenever he is talking about poverty stricken migrants coming from Central America”, Sam, a coal miner from the Pittsburgh area, told the World Socialist Web Site. “This is like music to the ears to mentally ill people like (Bowers). Trump’s rhetoric is reinforcing their illusions that immigrants are responsible for our problems.”

Sam specifically singled out the Democrats for their role. “I don’t know what to say about the Democrats. A few months ago, some of them were saying to get rid of ICE but they quickly dropped that. It’s all politics to them.

“They want to tiptoe around the issue (of immigration). They don’t really care about children being separated from their parents, or people living in poverty being treated like criminals just because they are trying to come to America to have a better life.

“Obama deported more immigrants than anyone else. They have ceded the issue to Trump who sprouts this hatred. For the Democrats the issue is ‘Russian meddling‘ …

“The Democrats are allowing the president to claim that people from Central America or the Middle East are a threat to America. They are giving people who are not doing very well someone to blame for their problems–not the CEOs and corporate executives who are making obscene profits. Immigrants are not the reason the coal companies are giving miners the worst possible health care package, or why the company can draft (forced overtime) a miner to work weekends, or miners are dying from black lung.”

Even as the Pittsburgh funerals were taking place, Trump gave a White House speech Thursday night, once again denouncing the “invasion” of immigrants and accusing those seeking to escape the dire conditions in the Central American countries long ravaged by American imperialism of being human traffickers, drug dealers and violent criminals. The president said he planned to strip migrants of the right to claim asylum if they were inside the US and he gave a greenlight to US troops being sent to the border to shoot children, “if they throw rocks at our military.”

NBC News reported that the president was scheduled to give the provocative speech earlier in the week but postponed it because of the Pittsburgh killings.

When Trump arrived in the city Tuesday, he was met by thousands of demonstrators who protested in Squirrel Hill and other areas of Pittsburgh. About 200 students from the University of Pittsburgh and other universities in the area, hastily gathered outside UPMC hospital when students learned that Trump had gone there to visit wounded police officers.

Jackie, Madison, and Haley, students at University of Pittsburgh, attended the protest. “A lot of people specifically told him not to come here and he came anyway,” noted Jackie.

Madison said that immigrants are “definitely used as a scapegoat for a lot of things that are unfair. I think the way we’ve been handling it as a country is not the right answer. Some of the things that the Trump administration has proposed are inhumane.” Tomika Kinsley, a certified nurse’s assistant said, “Trump shouldn’t have come here when everyone was telling him not to. He promotes hatred and seeks to divide people.”

Pierre Mballa and Gill VauGhn-Spencer, students at Point Park University in downtown Pittsburgh, denounced Trump for creating the climate for the synagogue massacre. Pierre said, “I think we are living in a time when our President is spreading a lot of hate and vitriol. When events like this happen, the two can’t help but be correlated. We have protests when our president is coming and that just shows that people are not supportive of him and what he does.”

Gill added, “It’s sad to see that people are so divided. He is spreading so much hate that even now, when he comes to pay his respects, people hate it, nobody wants him around because he created the situation that allowed this to happen.”

“The people who he is labeling as invaders are people from this continent and South America”, Pierre said. “America is a country made up of immigrants. I am an immigrant. If Trump passes that executive order saying that people born in the United States are not citizens, you are basically going against the fundamentals of what the USA is.”

Workers in other cities also denounced Trump’s anti-immigrant tirade.

A Fiat Chrysler worker from Kokomo, Indiana told the WSWS, “If we go down the road of scapegoating immigrants, all workers will be victimized the same way. The government is ripping families apart and treating people seeking asylum worse than animals. It’s time we wake up and realize that powerful forces are trying to divide us, and we stand up to oppose it.”

An autoworker in Detroit added, “The rich need an external enemy to draw attention away because workers are starting to go after them.”

Pittsburgh Synagogue Shooting Suspect Offered To Help White Supremacist Dox A Blogger On Gab. Robert Bowers offered to help League of the South’s Brad Griffin find a more recent address for a blogger who closely tracked white supremacists: here.

ARRESTED NEO-NAZI WAS PROUD OF HIS VIEWS Jeffrey Clark, the 30-year-old man federal agents arrested after he called the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting a “dry run,” wasn’t shy about being a white supremacist. But it was only after his family reported him that authorities arrested him on gun charges. [HuffPost]